Tom Jackman didn't run when the dreams started again.
In the dream, he was walking across the rooftops of London, like in Mary Poppins. He felt each item of clothing like they were extensions of himself, he felt the rough roofs beneath the rubber soles of his feet. He felt the wind through his coat, as soft as a milk bath. He felt the end of the rooftop on his toes, and he felt no hesitation, no reservations. One step and he was over the edge. He didn't feel the terminal velocity of the fall, the wild, untameable wind. All he felt was freedom and oblivion, dark and complete and silence. He felt better than he'd felt in his whole life. The first time he'd made love to his wife couldn't compare to this. This fiction, this dream, it was better than the day his sons were born. By far.
His ankles didn't buckle, didn't hurt when he reached the pavement. Like a caring mother, London embraced him, and he was strutting through the streets as though he were their king. The streets were empty, vacant, but not for long. Suddenly, Tom was standing at the head of a hill of corpses, he felt naked, born again, and the only thing ruining his absolution and the immersion of himself within it was the pulsating organ in his right hand. He looked, and there she was, Claire. Her hair was a mess and her face was bloody. She was cut and bruised and pleading for her life. Somewhere in the back of his mind, it registered to Tom that this should be horrifying. It should be, but it wasn't. In Tom's mind, this was hilarious. He laughed like a giddy child, excitement and joy bubbling in his blood like a drug. He squeezed.
He woke up in pools of sweat at night, but he felt as though these were just echoes. Ripples of times gone by. He'd felt them for a while, but it'd been five years, and he thought he was making progress. He wasn't afraid anymore. He was content, happy even. He settled down again next to Claire, and he sighed, thankful she was still alive. But, still, somewhere in his stomach, something told him he didn't mean it.
Then the blackouts started.
They'd happen briefly. He'd be pouring tea, and all of a sudden his hand would be scorched by the boiling water. He'd go blank, and his pen would scar his page of notes, ruining them. The worst was when he picked up Harry, his son, and then become entirely vacant. His fingers had loosened, only for a second, and Harry fell to the ground, dislocating his ankle. He'd apologised to Claire profusely, but she didn't want to hear it. This is how he was before the whole thing had started, she'd say, this is why they drifted apart. How dare she imply that? his mind had roared, How dare she say it was all YOUR fault! It takes two to fuck up a marriage, honey!Claire looked shocked. Had he said that out loud? He was slipping, and he could see it, but do nothing about it. He didn't know if Hyde was back, but he knew that Jackman wasn't all there, either.
So he had run.
He found himself now, sitting on the edge of his cheap bed, in his cheap apartment, in his cheap block of a cheap section of Edinburgh. This is where he spent his Saturday nights, and this is where he blacked out.
Only, he didn't. He fell backwards, and where he expected the bed to catch him, it didn't. He fell through it, but wasn't surprised at all. He fell for a while, completely calm, and then found himself suddenly standing, surrounded by nothing but darkness. What the hell is going on?
And there he was. Sitting in the old chair, all the straps and the locks and the keypad all there, all replicated in perfect detail. His frame was slim, but stronger than when he had last been unleashed. His shoulders were higher and his muscles were lithe and strong. His jaw was less narrow, and his hair was a little longer. The simple white shirt he wore was pristine, a testament to his fine tastes. The strong, Belfast accent boomed and whispered all at once.
"Look Daddy," Mr Hyde said, "I've grown up."
The apparition raised his head, and he looked at Tom Jackman through smoky black eyes. His crooked, pointed teeth formed a malicious smile. Tom felt his stomach churn and the hairs on the back of his neck prick up. His eyes welled up with tears. He had never seen Hyde like this. Never in his head. Hyde was always the dominant one. He asked himself why Hyde would appear to him like this, and the answer followed like the cars of a speeding train, though he wasn't sure if it was he himself who answered, or Hyde: He's being submissive. He doesn't want to take control, doesn't want to kill. He wants to talk. In many ways, this frightened him much more than the other option.
Tom's lips quivered as he spoke. "What do you want?"
Hyde's head cocked to the side. He was so playful, so childish, and so terrifying, all at once.
"I want to help us..."
His sentences never seemed to end, they hung in the air for a moment. Tom couldn't understand them. Dozens of questions bounded around in his head, sometimes they collided, forming new questions, new problems. He was becoming overwhelmed by it all.
"Us?", He finally breathed.
"He's been following us, Daddy,"
Before he could ask, Tom's head was flooded with information. Smells and sounds, occasional glimpses, all of the same person. The same movements, same aroma, all observing Tom as he walked around Edinburgh. Hyde's senses were multiplied a thousandfold, and Tom had never felt the rush of data that Hyde must have experienced at every waking moment. He was stunned, unable to react, so Hyde continued.
"I don't know who he is. He's new. We need to be careful. He knows." His voiced seemed to be coming from everywhere, even inside Tom's own head.
"B-b..." Tom began, stuttering like a child who'd just been told the truth for the first time, "But I can't see him, how can I-?"
He looked at Hyde, and Hyde was grinning. That grin. That grin that had haunted his dreams, as well as his wife's and his sons', for so long. Tom shook his head slowly, he knew what Hyde wanted. Knew what he meant. He wouldn't allow it.
"We did it once, Daddy. You know it can work..."
"I nearly died! I did die! My entire FAMILY nearly died because of us!"
Hyde's smile grew wider, like a wound across his face. Tom covered his mouth. He'd just referred to them as 'Us' he didn't do that. Not for a long time.
"We'll use the same rules, the same restrictions. Same agreement. Klein and Utterson aren't following you anymore. They haven't been for a long time."
"How do you know that he isn't from Klein and Utterson? How do you know you won't expose us?" He'd slipped again, but he didn't care.
Hyde's teeth moved, like an animal, preparing to pin something down with it's almighty fangs. The breath grew in the back of his throat like a growl. The sound moved through the air like smoke.
On the bed, Mr Hyde woke up.